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The second key activity of the Planning Stage is the feasibility study, a task carried out in the program planning processes. While a feasibility study varies with project context and scope, there are four assessments that are especially important for safer school construction and retrofit programs. These four assessments are: • Community • Hazard • Site • Material and capacity. Program scale may shape stages of the feasibility study. A regional feasibility study may be necessary for large programs, followed by another study at each community site. A local and informal study in the form of a facilitated community meeting and formal interviews with local authorities may be enough to establish the project context for small programs or single projects. The school management committee, formed in the Mobilisation Stage, should play a strong, even lead, role in the feasibility study. Program managers should support the school management committee’s capacity to do this through identifying or providing local skilled people and external experts. They should also help by facilitating the planning process and/or providing tools and training so the committee can take action themselves. Community assessment The feasibility study should start with a review of the immediate community context of school projects. At this stage the focus becomes narrow compared to previous stages. In the Planning Stage, the focus is on how the particular community functions and how the school project can integrate with other development activities and goals. The program manager and school management committee should identify community policies and standards, including land use and planning policies if they exist. The planning and policy cycle of local governments may influence funding availability or where school buildings can be constructed. Similarly, if community development plans are present, the school management committee and program manager should consider how the school project might support skill and knowledge development in the school community. A demographic survey may also inform the feasibility and scope of the school construction or retrofit project. Demographic data should identify the school population, the catchment area and any future expansion requirements. Where the needs assessment identified specific issues of concern, such as student access to school, the demographic survey may also provide clarity. Demographic surveys don’t have to be complicated. A simple list of questions and a plan to talk with a certain number and type of people in each area of the school catchment area may provide sufficient information. Even when school committee members believe they can answer demographic and needs assessment questions, a structured but simple community assessment can ensure transparency of decisionmaking processes and build community trust in the school management committee and community-based approach. Hazard assessment Determining the type, frequency and intensity of hazards to which a school is exposed is fundamental to ensuring school buildings are well-designed and well-constructed. Forces from floods, earthquakes and high winds that could affect a school building are often marked on hazard maps maintained by the local civil defence or other authorities. Yet these maps usually provide only a general understanding of hazard severity, and they may not even be available in rural communities. Hazard specialists can survey sites to visually inspect for geological and hydrological features that indicate hazard exposure. However, local knowledge provides particularly important information. • Local communities. Local communities have personal experience with hazards that occur over months and years. For example, community residents are likely to know the location of annual floods, rapidly eroding riverbanks, avalanches, prevailing winds and landslides. They also understand when rain, wind or snow make roads impassable and know other effects from seasonal changes. Community understanding of hazards also has limitations. Collective memory is often limited to a decade or two because of lifespan, and usually is limited to a community s immediate area. Community members also commonly accept their extreme exposure to hazards that routinely damage property and kill residents, and so they may downplay these risks. Parents desperate for schools and infrastructure are even willing to accept an unsafe school or hazardous location. In addition, climate change is changing the pattern and intensity of extreme weather events. Historic knowledge is no longer sufficient for predicting future trends. SECTION III: PLANNING Key activity 2: Feasibility study • Hazard specialists. While hazard specialists may not know local conditions well, they can provide regional hazard information as well as quantitative assessments of a hazard probability within a given time frame. Depending on data availability, they may be able to define seismic risk and tsunami or flood inundation zones. In mountainous regions, hazard specialists like geologists can observe slopes and aerial maps to find evidence of past large landslides. In historic river plains they can identify soils that are likely to become unstable in earthquakes and liquefy. Hydrologists can explain patterns in rainfall and flooding over multiple decades and estimate how far flood inundation may extend from a riverbank over the span of a decade or century. Meteorologists can identify similar patterns for high-wind events and note landforms that can potentially funnel wind and increase its damage to school buildings. Climate scientist can provide some insight into future climate variability and change. 46